Woods back in world's top four after matching Nicklaus with Memorial Tournament win
10:14 GMT, 4 June 2012
10:14 GMT, 4 June 2012
Tiger Woods is up to fourth in the world after producing one of the shots of his life en route to winning the Memorial Tournament.
A spectacular chip-in birdie from the rough over the 16th green helped the 36-year-old to match the 73 PGA Tour wins of tournament host Jack Nicklaus. Only Sam Snead with 82 is ahead of him now.
The former world No 1 climbs from ninth to fourth a week before he heads to San Francisco for his attempt to win a 15th major. He is currently four behind Nicklaus' record – and has been since the 2008 US Open.
Main man: Tiger Woods won the Memorial Tourmanent in Ohio
Woods' fist-pumping roar of delight rolled back the years, and was soon followed by a calm raise of the club after a birdie putt on 18 which he knew had taken him out of reach of the chasing Rory Sabbatini, who finished two shots back.
Starting the day four off the lead, Woods birdied the second hole after a fine approach to eight feet but it was the fifth where his round sparked into life.
With two par-fives in the space of three holes, Woods took full advantage by birdying both as well as the intervening sixth.
He gave one shot back at the eighth
when a 40-foot putt broke too far, and after losing another at 10 it
looked as though his charge would not materialise.
he had other ideas, with three birdies in the last four holes including
the shot which Nicklaus himself, watching at greenside, said was the
best he had seen at the Muirfield Village course.
Legends of the game: Woods is congratulated by Jack Nicklaus after his victory
And Woods told reporters: 'I knew if I hit it short it would have been down and left, if I hit it long it was in the water. The lie wasn't all that great, I had to take a cut at it and it came out just perfect.'
And Woods –
10 years younger than
Nicklaus when he recorded his last win – said: 'It's been pretty nice
and to do it at age 36, it's not too shabby. I've been very proud what
I've done so far in my career and I feel I've still got a lot of good
years ahead of me.'
On Sunday's round as a whole, he
said: 'Boy, I hit it good today. I never really missed a shot, I had the
pace of the greens really nice and made a few putts.'
Overnight leader Spencer Levin opened
up with an 11-foot putt for birdie and was solid for the remainder of
his front nine, but bogeyed the 10th and gradually unravelled on the way
Sabbatini was one over for his front nine but hit his approach at the par-five 11th to three feet and holed out for birdie.
He repeated the feat at the tricky
short 12th – and also saw Levin dump his tee shot in the back left
bunker, which seemed to derail the erstwhile leader's challenge.
Holed it: Woods on his way to victory in the Memorial Tournament
It led to a bogey and worse was to follow at the next as a six-foot bogey putt dived dramatically right, the resulting six dropping him three shots off the lead at five under.
Sabbatini was fortunate to see his tee shot at the next pull up just short of the water and he capitalised with a perfectly measured approach which followed the contours of the green round towards the hole – but his birdie putt stopped inches short.
He was two clear at that stage but Woods was not finished and birdied 15 before producing the big moment of the day at the next.
held his breath as a par putt at 16 horseshoed round the back of the
hole before succumbing to gravity, but he could not hole out at 17.
Done it! Woods raises his putter to salute the crowd after making sure of his victory
1 Luke Donald, 2 Rory McIlroy, 3 Lee Westwood, 4 Tiger Woods 6.79, 5 Bubba Watson, 6 Matt Kuchar, 7 Justin Rose, 8 Hunter Mahan, 9 Jason Dufner, 10 Martin Kaymer, 11 Steve Stricker, 12 Phil Mickelson, 13 Webb Simpson, 14 Charl Schwartzel, 15 Louis Oosthuizen, 16 Zach Johnson, 17 Adam Scott, 18 Rickie Fowler, 19 Jason Day, 20 Dustin Johnson.
Other leading Europeans: 21 Graeme McDowell, 22 Sergio Garcia, 25 Peter Hanson, 27 Ian Poulter, 29 Paul Lawrie, 32 Martin Laird, 33 Francesco Molinari, 34 Thomas Bjorn, 35 Nicolas Colsaerts, 38 Carl Pettersson, 42 Alvaro Quiros, 46 Simon Dyson, 47 Fredrik Jacobson, 48 Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, 49 Robert Karlsson, 53 Anders Hansen, 55 Rafael Cabrera Bello, 58 Paul Casey, 59 Robert Rock, 62 Miguel Angel Jimenez, 63 Matteo Manassero, 76 Darren Clarke, 79 Joost Luiten, 81 Pablo Larrazabal, 84 Alexander Noren, 87 Michael Hoey, 88 Brian Davis, 93 Richie Ramsay, 96 Padraig Harrington, 98 Stephen Gallacher, 99 Bernd Wiesberger, 100 David Lynn
Woods' nerveless putt for a closing
birdie meant he would have been out of the hunt in any case, and left
Sabbatini needing an improbable eagle at the par-four 18th to force a
That was never on the cards, and Woods' coronation was confirmed moments later.
Andres Romero came from off the pace
to share second place with Sabbatini, eagling the long 15th before
finishing with a birdie three.
Levin shared fourth with Daniel
Summerhays on five under, the latter carding 69 including three birdies
and an eagle in his last five holes.
Two more Americans, Matt Every and
Jonathan Byrd, were four under, with Justin Rose three under and a
closing 67 leaving fellow Englishman Greg Owen a further shot back
alongside Ryo Ishikawa and Aaron Baddeley. Luke Donald was one under.
Woods' playing partner Rickie Fowler's anticipated challenge crumbled spectacularly.
young American wore his trademark all-orange for the final day but
would have wanted to disappear from view after squandering an opening
birdie by dropping four shots over the next three holes.
birdied the fifth but two more bogeys followed as he recorded only one
par in his first eight holes, and his woes continued on the back nine.
He ended up 12 over for his round, with three double-bogeys along the way, and seven over for the week.